New York (66-89) at Miami (83-72)

Thunder in the Vicinity Currently: Miami Gardens, FL
Temp: 85° F
  • Game info: 1:10 pm EDT Sun Sep 27, 2009
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The Florida Marlins’ postseason chances are still slim, but with Josh Johnson(notes) on the mound against the New York Mets on Sunday, they could soon become a bit more realistic.

Johnson will try to move to 8-0 in his career against New York in the decisive game of the NL East rivals’ three-game set in south Florida.

The Marlins have won all four times Johnson has started against the Mets this season, and the right-hander has a 2.30 ERA in nine career starts versus New York.

“Any time he goes out there, we have so much confidence in him, we expect him to shut them out and not give up any hits,” Florida’s Cody Ross(notes) said Aug. 26 after Johnson beat the Mets 5-3.

Johnson (15-5, 3.12 ERA) has been nearly as good in general this season, with the Marlins going 21-10 when he starts and 62-62 in all other games. He struck out 10 Tuesday against Philadelphia, but allowed four runs in five innings of a 9-3 loss.

Despite the defeat, he’s the only NL pitcher with as few as five losses in more than 30 starts.

Florida (83-72) may already have too many losses to have a realistic chance at the postseason, but the team inched within four games of Colorado in the NL wild-card race after beating the Mets 9-6 on Saturday. The Marlins would also have to pass Atlanta to earn a playoff spot, but they face the Braves in a three-game series starting Monday.

“We’re hanging around,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “That’s all we need to do, keep hanging around. Funnier things have happened.”

To stay in contention, they’ll probably have to win the series finale against New York. The Marlins could have been gunning for a sweep, but they lost Friday’s opener 6-5, blowing a late two-run lead.

They bounced back Saturday, using a seven-run fifth inning highlighted by a three-run home run by Cameron Maybin(notes). The young outfielder entered the game in place of Ross, who was hit by a pitch on his left hand, leaving his status unclear.

Florida’s offense has already proved it can handle Mets starter Pat Misch(notes), who took the loss against the Marlins at Citi Field on Sept. 9. The left-hander settled down after allowing four runs in the first inning, but it was too late to avoid a 6-3 defeat.

The loser of three straight starts, Misch (1-4, 5.59) had even bigger problems in his most recent outing, allowing eight runs in 1 1-3 innings in an 11-3 loss to Atlanta on Monday.

“I really threw bad pitches,” Misch said. “Just elevated, too much plate. The last two starts I haven’t pitched down low.”

The Mets (66-89) continue to struggle as they near the end of an injury-riddled season. One more loss will give them 90 for the first time since 2004, and they’ve won just four of their last 18 games.

Things looked especially ugly for New York on Saturday when star third baseman David Wright(notes) didn’t hustle to home plate, costing the team a run as Jeff Francoeur(notes) got thrown out at second base to end the fifth inning.

“Just a mental mistake. That’s my fault,” Wright said. “I’ll take responsibility and it won’t happen again.”

New York, which is 6-11 against the Marlins overall this season, needs a victory to avoid losing all three series at Land Shark Stadium.

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Starting Pitchers

P. Misch Mia vs. C. Volstad Pit
3-4 Record 9-13
4.48 ERA 5.21
23 K 107
22 BB 59
1.44 WHIP 1.43


Sunday, Sep 27